connected city (chombosan/

Laying the groundwork for 5G

With Verizon and AT&T expected to rollout 5G wireless service in the second half of this year, smart cities are in for a major upgrade. But in order for companies to offer broad access to 5G, more spectrum is required.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) introduced the Spectrum Now Act on June 6 to make it easier to reassign spectrum for commercial use.

“My legislation will help drive the progress from 4G to 5G, which is critically important to keeping our nation competitive,” Matsui said at a June 14 Bloomberg Government event.

“Our goal is to bring together technology to create fully integrated connected and inclusive communities,” Matsui said. “The Spectrum Now bill seeks to help achieve that by increasing the amount of available spectrum to meet the wireless data needs of the next generation broadband networks in cities across the country.”

The legislation builds on the Spectrum Pipeline Law, which provides incentives for federal agencies to free up their unused spectrum holdings for commercial opportunities. The Spectrum Now Act would make funding available so agencies can do the engineering research to determine how to move the spectrum into the commercial space.  

“We know that 5G doesn’t operate in a vacuum," Matsui said. "It is critically important that as we craft local, state and national strategies around smart cities, we  … think about the way that technology is embedded in communities and how the city itself can act as a node taking part in the network effort rather than acting as a barrier.”

Kathy Grillo, Verizon's senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, said the company will be deploying its 5G offerings first in Sacramento, Calif., and then in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the meantime, the company has set up an incubator lab in New York City where researchers can test 5G use cases.

“It is really important for us to engage directly with the cities and localities to make sure that we understand their needs when we deploy 5G,” Grillo said.  “We want be able to part of a community.”

Verizon has been working directly with Sacramento city officials under a private-public partnership for the past year to create a smart city by installing fiber-optic cable, providing free Wi-Fi and installing intelligent traffic solutions.  Lani Ingram, vice president of Verizon Smart Communities, said the collaboration has focused on making the city the capital of technology, art and food at the request of Mayor Darrell Steinberg. 

In Delaware, meanwhile, government officials are taking an active role in preparing for the rollout of 5G.  The state passed a new law in August 2017 that would allow telecommunications companies to affix small cell technology to poles and structures in the state's rights of way.

Editor's note: This article was changed June 15 to correct the name of the Spectrum Pipeline Law.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.